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What Are Bean Sprouts? Everything You Need To Know

If you like trying new veggies and are looking for a flavorful addition to your next stir fry, or maybe you want to take your salads to the next level, we’ll tell you what are bean sprouts here!

Have you ever heard of bean sprouts?

Well, if you have seen it before, then you might be thinking about what they are.

Compared to the usual sprouts that you get to eat, bean sprouts are in the shape of beans.

Yes, we know it sounds pretty interesting and exotic, right?

But, what are bean sprouts?

Bean sprouts are a tiny version of mung beans available in green and yellow varieties.

In a way, you can call them mung bean sprouts too.

Additionally, they are commonly used in Chinese and Indian cuisine, and they add a juicy, crunchy texture to many Asian dishes such as stir-fries and soups.

Plus, bean sprouts are easy to incorporate into both vegetarian and meat-based recipes.

So, if you love Asian food but have very little time to shop for all the ingredients needed to make a fabulous meal from scratch, try adding some fresh bean sprouts to your next stir fry recipe or use them as a topping on egg rolls or spring rolls!

Although you can easily find canned bean sprouts in the grocery store, it’s worth the extra effort to look for fresh bean sprouts in the grocery store.

The fresh versions are and will always be far superior in taste and texture.

What are bean sprouts?

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We’ve all seen those long, white things with the little tuft of small yellow leaves at the end.

You know what they are, you’ve seen them, but do you know what they’re called?

Bean sprouts! 

Also known as mung bean sprouts or Chinese bean sprouts, they’re young, sprouted mung beans and often described as crunchy with a subtle nutty flavor.

People commonly see these tender edible shoots in Asian cuisines (particularly in China) and increasingly in other culinary traditions.

In fact, sprouting your own beans at home is just as easy as buying them from the store, and that means you get to control the entire spouting process so that you know exactly how fresh and clean your sprouts are.

To grow beans, first, soak them in freshwater for 24 hours and then place them in a warm and dark location to stimulate germination.

Rinse each seed sprout every day as they grow, and within a few days, you should have ready-to-eat shoots.

You can also grow a wide variety of plants, including peas, alfalfa seeds, soybean sprouts, adzuki beans, lentils, garbanzos, and grains. 

With these types of beans, you can make sprouts that range from tiny to large ones.

What do bean sprouts taste like?

Bean sprouts are exactly what you expect them to taste like.

They are pretty low on the flavorful side, but they can still add a lot of depth to a dish.

These shooters are crunchy, water-packed vegetables with a mild flavor (sometimes subtly nutty) that pairs well with savory or spicy dishes.

They’re even great for salads too!

Also, their taste is very subtle, but they have hints of earthiness and freshness to them, especially when eaten raw. 

However, if you cook them, they lose their natural flavor and take on the flavors of the herbs and spices around them.

It’s hard to describe the taste of bean sprouts since they contain high amounts of water (90%), so the texture will play a big role in your enjoyment while eating them.

As for canned sprouts, the story is different.

While canned vegetables, such as beans and corn, tend to be mushy and bland, fresh ones such as alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts are often in a class of their own, especially when packed in water, brine, or oil instead of being cooked.

In addition to being tasty, canned sprouts can have several benefits over fresh options.

For example, they are a lot easier to prepare than fresh vegetables because they do not require much preparation time.

They can also be prepared quickly and easily at home, so you do not have to spend hours standing over your stove preparing them.

How long do bean sprouts last?

Bean sprouts can stay fresh and flavorful in the refrigerator for about two weeks, but they can last even longer, up to six weeks, if you store them properly.

However, freezing them is another option.

If you freeze bean sprouts, they’ll stay flavorful for about nine to twelve months before going bad.

And if you’d rather keep your bean sprouts at room temperature (which is totally fine), they will stay good there for 1 to 2 weeks before going bad.

Once opened, they can only last for 5 to 7 days before going bad.

How to store bean sprouts

Sprouts can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella; for that reason, it’s essential to choose a storage method that will allow you to keep sprouts fresh and safe. 

But how do you store your bean sprouts?

Expecting them to stay fresh forever is impossible, even for very long.

And if you’re hoping to keep your bean sprouts longer than a few weeks, you’ll need to freeze or can them.

While we fully believe that nothing beats homemade sprouts, we know you don’t always have time to grow a batch every week or two.

So here are our top four methods for storing your sprouts:

How to store bean sprouts in the refrigerator

If you decide to refrigerate your sprouts, make sure they are in an airtight container (preferably glass) and that the container is free from any moisture buildup.

If there is any moisture present, it will cause the sprouts to mold very quickly.

When stored in a refrigerator, your bean sprouts will keep for about two weeks; this is the quickest of these methods.

How to store bean sprouts in the freezer

Freezing bean sprouts is also an easy way to keep them fresh while not in use.

If you want to freeze your bean sprouts, it’s important that you do so at the right time.

In addition, bean sprouts should be frozen just after harvesting and before they’re cooked, so remember to keep cooked bean sprouts unfrozen.

To freeze your sprouts, simply put them in a plastic freezer bag to freeze your sprouts and seal them uptight.

Then pop it into your freezer! 

When you’re ready to cook with them again, simply remove the bag from the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator. 

Let it thaw out for about 2 hours or so.

And there you have it: now your bean sprouts have gone from fridge enemy #1 to freezer friend!

How to store bean sprouts using the ice water method

Another way to store your sprouts is through ice water storage, but only if you want to eat them on the same day or the next.

To achieve this, take your freshly picked bean sprouts and place them in a bucket of icy water.

Then, leave them submerged in the ice water overnight or until ready to consume (maximum of three days).

The last step is to remove the sprouts from the water, rinse and enjoy!

How to pickle and can bean sprouts

Pickling and canning bean sprouts is a simple process.

First, prepare a brine, and once the brine has cooled, you can submerge your bean sprouts in it.

Then, you simply process the bean sprouts in a hot water bath in mason jars to seal them.

Bean sprouts will last for months if stored correctly, but only if they’re pickled or canned correctly.

For example, if you aren’t careful about placing the lids on the mason jars when sealing them, you could end up with an explosion!

How to tell if bean sprouts are bad

Since mold and bacteria can overgrow on sprouts that haven’t been properly dried after sprouting, it’s worth keeping an eye out for signs that your sprouts have gone off, so you stay free from sickness.

It’s good to have some clear signs of trouble, so let’s take a look:

Smell

Bean sprouts usually smell like nothing distinct—maybe just a little earthy, like other salad items. 

So, if your sprouts smell rotten or putrid, put them in a plastic bag and throw them out immediately.

Mold

Visible signs of mold (white or green fuzzy layers) or discoloration suggests that your sprouts have gone bad.

Sprouts should also be free of mold during and after the sprouting process.

If you’re still unsure, don’t risk it!

Toss them out and start over with fresh seeds and clean equipment

What to do with bean sprouts?

Bean sprouts are cheap and crunchy, but what do you DO with them?

It’s impressive how versatile bean sprouts are when blending with any dish, but sometimes, things can be tricky and pretty complicated.

And you know that tossing them onto your salad or making spring rolls will make you get tired of them. 

There have to be others ways to use these little shooters.

Fortunately, we’ve got some recipes to make the most of your sprouts and enjoy them with your meals.

Soybean sprout soup is the quintessential Korean soup

It’s known for its savory broth and nutty, crunchy soybean sprouts.

It’s also easy to make, so you can whip it up in no time—perfect if you’re craving something tasty but don’t have a lot of time to spare.

For best results, serve this comforting soup with rice and kimchi.

When you think of bean sprouts, you probably think of a bland garnish on top of your pho or a side salad.

Well, you can do plenty of things with these crunchy, fresh little guys too!

Try this delicious crust made with bean sprouts, spinach, and spices that are topped with your favorite pizza fixings.

It’s a meal in itself—but if you want to add more toppings, feel free to do so!

You can also make meat substitutes or baked tofu according to your taste.

Love beef?

Try this beef and sprouts recipe!

Prepared with thinly sliced beef, which has been marinated to flavor and tender, Japanese Beef and Sprouts is wonderfully delicious when served over steamed rice.

You can also make it more delectable with toasted sesame seeds and a burst of freshness with sliced green onions!

If you love Indian cuisine, you’re going to go crazy for this variation on the traditional Indian lemon rice recipe.

The lemon adds a nice tang to this delicious dish, and with the addition of peanuts, it’s sure to be a hit!

It’s also a great snack or part of a meal!

Nothing is more gratifying than biting into a freshly steamed bean sprout.

It’s crisp, juicy, and light, so you get that contrast between the warm noodles and cool beansprouts with every bite.

It’s also the perfect bite on days when you’ve been craving something savory and hearty at the same time.

Soybean sprout rice (or Kongnamulbap) is one of those dishes that would seem simple enough, but it’s surprisingly complex and delicious.

 And it’s also a great way to enjoy the health benefits of soybean sprouts in the form of an easy one-dish meal.

The rice is often served on top of a dried laver seaweed sheet, which adds more flavor and texture to the dish.

The bottom line

Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-lover, adding a few sprouts to your meals can go a long way.

They’re flavorful, filling, and incredibly tasty.

Plus, they are even being touted as the next big food trend to take the world by storm.

While bean sprouts are not common in most cuisines, they can be used in several different dishes, often as an addition.

Whether it’s a side dish or an entrée, using these sprouts is not too complicated for the average cook. 

You can mix them with stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, stews, and other dishes.

The possibilities are endless!